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Desc:The actual debate starts around 17 minutes in - that'll skip the ad for the creationist museum, too.
Category:Science & Technology, Religious
Tags:science, bill nye, creationism, ken ham, chinstrap
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Comment count is 34
Debates starts at 17 minutes fyi
Oscar Wildcat
From the presence of the two bow ties in the room, can we assume our own Memedumpster and Friend managed to get into the theatre?
Nye held his own very well here. He didn't take the bait early on of Ham trying to imply that belief in evolution leads to immorality and all that nonsense. Instead he wisely kept steering things back towards science and I think that was the key.
Ham made much more of an ass out of himself than I honestly expected. I was initially surprised by his appeal to authority bullshit (These people agree with me and have PHDs!), but after that, he spend his load in the opening comments by using every fallacy or nonsensical bullshit he could think of, and basically he figured that would snowball the debate in his direction but it totally went the opposite way.

I would like to add that while Ham brings up a PhD (from Liberty University, of course) who claims that the Lenski experiments were nonsense, this guy hasn't published a single peer-reviewed paper refuting Lenski's work in anyway, and at this point, Lenski's work has been confirmed by several other experiments.
(Richard Lenski grew colonies of e-coli in his lab over 20 years and eventually one of them evolved to eat and grow using the solution they were kept in instead of just the food they were fed) Something similar happened decades ago when a new form of bacteria that eats nylon was discovered.
Nye did quite well, in my opinion. I think that he could have rebutted Ham's critique of radioisotope dating a bit more forcefully and that he could have called him out a bit more one the obvious contradictions he talked himself into, but overall Bill did a great job. He was well spoken in conveying his message, while avoiding offending those Christians who may have been on the fence over the issue.

I originally thought this debate was a bad idea and I am glad to say that Bill Nye proved me wrong in that regard. It is a shame that the Ken Ham will make money off of this in videos and free publicity, however.
I still think that calling this a "debate" is far off. i do like the idea that this was more or less hijacked as an exhibition of rational responses to common fallacy, but at the end of the day you have two people who define "truth" in two completely separate ways. it's like watching a game, only it's between a team playing baseball and a team doing improv comedy.

I think Nye should have come out in an exoskeleton with a railgun, fired a slug through a Bible and yelled "SCIENCE, BITCHES!"

Oscar Wildcat
The Ken would just turn out inside a giant stone head floating above the audience, vomiting guns and urging the crowd to exterminate the rest of the world.

The most baffling thing Ham said was about the dinosaur fossil with the brain tumor. For those that missed it-- he has in his museum a dino fossil with a brain tumor. He says this PROVES it lived AFTER the flood. Because in the Bible, before the flood, God said everything was "good." And hey, we all know that brain tumors aren't a good thing. So this creature must have lived after the flood.

Check and mate, Mr. Ham.
So by God's reasoning, Abel getting murdered by Cain* was "good?"

He caused the flood* because things were all "good?"

Ken Ham just sank his own battleship, there.

* Note: Neither of these things actually happened, FYI.

As much as I abhor clarifying Ham's point - I think that his position is that everything before Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the apple was good. Everything after this was bad. So yes, the Abel and Cain story is post-fall, and therefore bad

Also, from what I'm reading of this particular argument online, I think his point is more that IF you take the Bible literally, that there's no way to reconcile a million-years-old Earth with scripture, due to Original Sin. which... yeah, is true, I guess.

of course, there's about a million other more obvious reasons why taking everything the bible says at face value puts you at odds with pretty much any scientific discovery made about the earth, so I'm really not sure why he found the need to put all of this effort into taking just this one part literally?

The idea that tumors/diseases/parasites only came into existence post-fall is problematic though. Presumably diseases are living things... so, like the dinosaurs, diseases were created along with other living things, but were benign and good... and post-fall diseases/parasites became bad... the distinction between vegetarian-good dinosaurs and meat-eating-bad-dinosaurs is ridiculous, but the distinction between good-bacteria and bad-diseases is pretty incoherent... How would a parasite exist pre-fall?
Doing some sleuthing on creation scientists and the issue of how parasites could have existed in a "good" form before the fall:

"Where do the malaria parasites fit into God’s “very good” creation? Most creation biologists believe that God created (Genesis 1 and 2) all microbes and protists as very good forms of life (Francis 2003; Gillen 2008). Even today, a vast majority of bacteria, fungi, and protozoans are beneficial to man and nature....

Creation biologists would suggest that parasitism is a secondary state in nature. After the Fall, something “bad” happened: some organisms degenerated into parasites. The key to understanding most parasites is that they have a “broken” relationship with their host."

Oscar Wildcat
5 god-created stars for the notion that influenza virus has sinned to achieve it's current state.

It would follow that we could heal people by getting the offending virus or bacteria to accept Jesus and thus be saved. Perhaps microscopic tracts or something of this nature, I dunno. How does one witness to a micro-organism?


Dude, the protein Laminin is in the shape.... OF A CROSS!!! Microscopic organisms and quasi-organisms are TOTALLY capable of accepting our Lord Jesus Christ and will then become forces for good and stop killing literally MILLIONS of children every. single. god. damn. year.

I liked Bill Nye's bit about the kangaroos... he should have pressed Ham more on that point...
pressed ham?

Maybe next time Nye can debate a geocentrist, or a holocaust denier, or a homeopathic expert, or a chi master, or a breatharian or a 1-800 line psychic, or an alien abduction survivor, or an Otherkin, or one of those chemtrail people, or a targeted individual, or a jar of pickles.
A lot of that if James Randi's beat.

I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I think debating these people lends a sense of weight to their position that it doesn't deserve. On the other hand, with the state of science education and science literacy in this country, you pretty much have to.

I don't think Bill Nye is capable of completely understanding just how deluded his opponents on this issue actually are.
asian hick
That's my problem. Bill Nye lost this debate when he agreed to it. What creationists want more than anything is for there to be debate about evolution. This plays right into their narrative that controversy exists about the topic when it is actually as close to being fact as is possible in science.

Wow. This is a long version of Ken Ham's "Were you thehh?" argument.
wooyoo thehhh?

From the beginning, since the theory of evolution was first being written about, scientists have been engaging shrieking zealots who think the theory says something about the existence of god or whether god created the universe.

I can't help but wonder what things would be like if rather than engaging and continuing to engage, they had simply and swiftly responded with "Well, this is science, and it has only to do with the natural, observable world. Science will never ever ever prove or disprove the existence of god or the supernatural," patted the dummies on the head, and moved on.

There might not be nearly as many people today who desperately feel the need to prove to everyone else that every single thing in the Bible happened exactly the way it's written down. They would just have their faith, be happy, and leave science teachers to teach science stuff. (Maybe they would even accept biblical inconsistencies as metaphor or changes when it was oral history or changes in translation or who cares)

Instead there's been this continuing public 'debate.' We may as well debate 'Geology vs Sandwiches'.

I think the real reason the 'debate' rages on to this day is that both sides figured out they could make money from this debate. In short, I'm saying that this debate clearly has at least one charlatan participating.
I'm sure most early scientists did. They weren't out to disprove God, but the shrieking zealots made the same point they do today. They take an all or nothing approach, so to them if you're trying to disprove a 6 day creation then you are trying to disprove their god.
Its been in the last 30 years with the rise of the religious right that they're trying to force creation in schools while science has always been happy to keep science in the classrooms.

When Darwin first published Origin there was plenty of real (for lack of a better word) debate going on in the scientific community (I very well could be wrong but I believe most of it had to do with if the mechanisms of evolution were planned or as we now know happenstance and random).
There was a famous debate between an ardent supporter of Darwin (Huxley aka 'Darwins Bulldog') and the Bishop of oxford, fellow by the name of Samuel Wilberforce. Thing is Wilberforce while not a scientist was coached on the debate by renowned biologists at the time. I'm just saying there was plenty of debate in the scientific community over the mechanisms of evolution (keep in mind Darwin didn't come up with the idea of evolution just Natural Selection).

I think at the time in question it was thought science could, if not prove the existence of god, at least compliment the idea of him. (although I have no fucking idea if this is true or not).

Also, this is a debate that really only exists in America. As far as first world countries goes. Sure other nations have their religious nutters trying to force the ideas of creation but they're seen as nutters. Not people who should actually influence anything.

Different sects have taken different views on evolution. The Catholic Church has never had any big problem with evolution, for example; as Wikipedia says, "even before the development of modern scientific method, Catholic theology had allowed for biblical text to be read as allegorical, rather than literal, where it appeared to contradict that which could be established by science or reason. Thus Catholicism has been able to refine its understanding of scripture in light of scientific discovery."

American fundamentalist Christianity, though, is particularly fucked in the head, and I think it's because it is motivated not by Christ but by The American Way (tm). If you want to believe in Jesus but you also want to be in favor of greed and a lack of concern for your fellow man, you need to read your Bible in a way that obsesses over a few irrelevant minutiae while minimizing its core themes (which, both Old and New Testament, have everything to do with taking care of your fellow man in the here and now).

Here's Bill O'Reilly giving a picture-perfect illustration of what I'm talking about:


The God of Biscuits
Eh, I think a lot of people here are kind of missing the point. Ham wasn't trying to convince anyone outside the "bubble" about anything. Instead he was preaching to the converted. That's why he always came back to the Bible, even to the point of illogical statements like parasites couldn't existed before the fall of man. He is trying to keep his followers from straying, from starting to thing that hey maybe the world is billions of years old, I could believe that and still be a Christian. So he puts on a show, oh hey look at me, I am debating a "Darwinist" who doesn't believe the Bible. Oh, you say there are fossils? WELL NOBODY CAN EVER PROVE HOW OLD THE EARTH IS, BLAH BLAH "HISTORICAL SCIENCE". He doesn't have to refute Nye's points, he just has to say a bunch of stuff to YECs to convince them that what they already believe is true.

That's why this was a bad idea and that's why you shouldn't debate creationists. At best, you won't change anybody's mind. At worst, you look like a fool because they tend to be talented orators. Nye didn't look like a fool most of the time, but his readiness to say "we don't know", without explaining that one of science's strengths is the ability to admit what it doesn't know, hurt him IMO.

I loved the kangaroo bit though, I'm gonna steal that point.
Counter-point. This is probably the longest time most of the people in that audience had ever listened to a real scientist talk about evolution or science in general for that matter as opposed to some cooked up straw-man. I don't know where I'm going with this. I just want to say that's a positive thing. The rest of it though...probably more harmful than good.

HEY EVERYBODY!!!! POTHOLER54 Took a moment from all the "important"(I'm still sad we won't be seeing more videos from him anytime soon) shit he's doing in his to make a post about the debate on his facebook page:

Sadly, Bill Nye hasn’t learned the first rule of staging a formal debate with creationists: Never accept a formal debate with creationists. Their intent is never to win a debate, all they have to do is be on a stage on an equal footing with equal time. If each side simply states its predictable position with no direct questioning, it inevitably ends up as a draw.
The second rule is: If you are going to debate a creationist, at least learn something about his beliefs, how he rationalizes those beliefs, and how he counters the basic scientific evidence.
Because he didn't do his homework, Nye fell into the trap.
Ham brought up the same drivel he has always used in his videos and on answersingenesis, so it should have been easy to prepare a detailed rebuttal. Instead Nye bounced around through dozens of arguments that creationists are all too familiar with. Nye’s points were so predictable that even I could have written out the creationist rebuttal.
Come on Bill, all you had to do was punch your questions into Ken Ham’s answersingenesis.com the week before. He gives away his entire battle plan on that website and yet you still insist on a plodding frontal assault into the machine guns.
It was the deluge of unrelated points that made Ham’s rebuttal so easy, because up front he said Nye had posed “too many questions to answer in the time alloted,” so he just chose to make the standard creationist response to a couple of them.
He countered the predictable radiometric dating point with examples of dating anomolies and the assumption of scientists that radioactive decay rates have always been the same.
Ham also leaped on Nye’s fluffy opinion (posed as a question): “Is it reasonable to suppose that unskilled men could have built an ark that big?” To which Ham, predictably, said that Noah might have been very skilled. To which all Nye could say is that this was “not reasonable” and that he remained “skeptical.” Ouch! Zing!
If you want to stump Ken Ham with a question, use one that you know he can’t answer. Yes, there are plenty of them, but you need to spend time finding out what they are. Then you choose just three or four of these unanswerable questions, explain them in detail, and keep pushing for an answer throughout the debate.
Finally, I had to facepalm when Nye himself was given a couple of softball questions from members of the audience and he couldn’t answer them.
“How did the atoms that created the Big Bang get there?” Bill’s answer: “We don’t know.”
The answer, of course, is that atoms did not create the Big Bang, it was the other way around. And yes, by all means go on to point out that we don’t yet know what caused the Big Bang, but also point out that it doesn’t matter. We still have a natural explanation for what came after the big bang, and therefore the creationist explanation of an instant sun, and instant earth and a Garden of Eden is not viable – which is, after all, the topic of the debate.
And on another question: “How did consciousness come from matter?” Nye also shrugged his shoulders and said “dunno.”
Come on Bill. Why not explain how matter combined chemically to form replicating polynucleotides, and how natural selection would have changed these into more complex molecules? Then explain how these molecules evolved into protocells which evolved into cellular organisms, which developed basic neural functions, which evolved into small brains, then larger brains, until animals – including, gorillas, dolphins, elephants and humans – had a brain big enough to appreciate their own existence.
So inevitably the result was a draw, which for the creationists means a huge win. Any time a creationist can stand on an equal footing with a respected scientist and argue science to a standstill, it gives the “two worldviews” idea merit.
The one thing that was not mentioned during the whole debate is that this “two wordviews” idea has a fundamental flaw. In one of his illustrations, Ken Ham showed “Creationism – God’s word” on one side and “Naturalism – Darwin” on the other.
So it needs to be pointed out what makes them fundamentally different: God’s word cannot be changed. Creationists themselves accept that everything they believe is set in a book that cannot possibly be wrong, so if new evidence comes along it has to fit the existing worldview.
Darwin’s word, however, can be wrong. In science, if new evidence comes along that contradicts the “worldview” then the worldview changes. In fact, Darwin’s conclusions about what drives evolution and how it unfolded have been shown to be wrong – by scientists, not creationists -- and Darwin’s books have not been used as textbooks in biology teaching for decades.
No disrespect to Darwin, he was a genius, but he was a 19th Century genius and we now live in the 21st century.
Creationists are still living with a wordview carved in the 5th century BC.
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always a good sign

My favorite tag.

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